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Transcript
Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
Underestimated impact of Family Climate on Young Adult:
Mediation and Moderation effects of Psychosocial Maturity on
Well-Being
Wilson P.L. Wong
Abstract
Family research has been spotlighting on the well-being of child and adolescent,
but the unheeded side is the effects of family on young adults who have been
transiting from dependence to independence of family. This study investigated
the impacts of family climates on young adults’ well-being through mediations
or moderations of psychosocial maturity. A total of 202 participants were
administrated a selection of scales measuring their family climate, ego strengths,
self-esteem, depression and life satisfaction. Results showed that expressiveness
and active-recreational orientation were stronger predictors of well-being than
did cohesion and conflict. Cohesion, expressiveness and active-recreational
orientation exerted partial indirect effects through different ego strengths on
indicators of well-being except moral self. Cohesion and expressiveness acted as
resilience factors against deficiency in ego for moral self, while conflict interact
with ego strengths to produce mixed findings of family self, social self and life
satisfaction. The reversed importance of family climates suggested that a
probable main task for adult is to transform the family relationship and
interaction that close to the way of friendship. Empirical application of
ascending egos and descending egos also brought both new perspective and
critic toward Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. These complex
complementary effects of family climates and psychosocial maturity on
well-being serve as rare, yet inspiring, evidence for theoretical background
about family impact on adult.
Introduction
Family is a special psychosocial system that every member pursuit individual needs
and goals, and yet all functioning as a whole by multidirectional and circular
impacts to maintain the homeostasis (Goldenberg and Goldenberg 2005). This
resilient equilibrium undergoes a strained period when the child of family enters
adolescence and develops autonomy to attempt becoming an independent one and to
take responsibility of own world (Hill and Holmbeck 1986, Sprinthall and Collins
1995). Nonetheless, the family influences on offspring are so profound but
unapparent that, for instance, irrational beliefs or behavioral patterns can be
transmitted generation by generation and formulate a vicarious cycle (Adshead and
Bluglass 2001, Kretchmar and Jacobvitz 2002).
Despite of having a proliferated theoretical background, the trend of family
research is, ironically, always not referring theory as the guidance (Jacob 1987). An
extensive body of research is interested in comparing children and adolescents from
nuclear family stepfamily, single-parent family and divorced family (Amato and
Keith 1991, Hanson et al. 1996, Dunn et al. 1998, Hazelton et al. 1998). Family
Environment Scale (FES), which is one of the most acknowledged and accepted
self-reported questionnaire, was frequently employed in these studies concerning
well-being (Glidden and Schoolcraft 2007). FES is developed by R. H. Moos and his
colleagues (1974, 1981) who aimed at assessing family climate, which defined as
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Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
the perceived environment by each family member that they are influenced by its
characteristics. It consists of nine subscales: cohesion, expressiveness, conflict,
independence,
achievement
orientation,
intellectual-cultural
orientation,
active-recreational orientation, moral-religious emphasis, organization and control.
Family research on Adult
It is fair to say that focus of family research has been mainly concentrating on
children and adolescence (Maccoby 1980). This could be expounded by the fact that
psychological development during young ages is critically sensitive and subjective
to the contexts of family (Hunter and Youniss 1982, Greenberg et al. 1983). For
example, child’s violent behavior and later adolescent’s delinquency are related to
both the presence and quality of parental involvement (Wright and Wright 1994).
Contrariwise, the increasing autonomy of young adult results in their declining
reliance on parents whether in cognitive, emotional, or behavioral domains
(Sprinthall and Collins 1995, Grotevant 1998). Adults have to achieve individuation
from family of origin that separates their lives with parents (Frank et al. 1988).
Therefore, they are rarely considered on how can be changed or shaped by family.
Although adult is always regarded as an independent and autonomy unit, there
are, still, few research recruited adult as subject to investigate the possible role of
family played. Serewicz and her colleagues (2007) found that in university students,
the communication with family members was indicative of the qualities of family
interactions, satisfaction and relationships. More importantly, this communication
pattern learned from family continued to affect ninety percent of the left home adult.
In addition, Siddique and D'Arcy (1984) demonstrated that perceived family stress
has, surprisingly, more consistent and larger correlations with psychological
adjustments than school and peer stresses in adolescents. This implies many
unrealized but dominant roles of family on adults have been unrevealed such as
family relationship in socialization (Weidman 1989, Pascarella and Terenzini 1991).
All of these evidences suggested that family exerted direct and indirect effects on
adult, which have always been overlooked.
Family, Adult and Psychosocial Maturity
Adulthood is a period concerning psychosocial maturity as a function of individuation
to separate from parents and start self-governance (Hill and Holmbeck 1986, Frank et
al. 1988). Greenberger and Sørensen (1974) integrated the viewpoints from
psychology and sociology and defined psychosocial maturity as the capacity to deal
effectively with oneself, others and the society. In this sense, plenty of studies
constitute a giant picture showing that family environment is conducive to
psychosocial maturity. Young adult who grow up in stepfamily have higher chances
of engagement in quitting school, substance dependence, antisocial behavior and
sexual risk-taking behavior (Nicholson et al. 1999). These deviations in behavior
resulting from immature identities can be referred back to the high control in parental
style (Enright et al. 1980). Indeed, family factors, such as support of individuation,
can foster identity formation in young adult (Sandhu and Tung 2006).
Another piece of evidence justified that family impact on adult has been
neglected in theoretical perspective rise from the Erikson’s (1968) life-span theory
of psychosocial development. According to his epigenetic principle, Erikson
proposed every individual would invariably go through a series of psychosocial
stages in which particular challenges from surrounding social contexts would
become salience. Each resolution of these crises would result in development of a
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Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
stronger corresponding ego strength as well as healthier psychological functioning.
These eight ego strengths ascending in a sequential order during life span are: hope,
will, purpose, competency, fidelity, love, care, and wisdom. His idea denoted that in
the sixth crisis, the pursuit of love from individuals other than family members is the
main theme faced by young adult. Maybe Erikson is right in his assertion, this point,
however, deserves additional validation based on the previous notions of family
impact on adult.
The investigation of family effect on ego strengths suggested by Erikson was
very limited. As to our knowledge, only two studies, both done by Adams and his
colleagues (2000, 2006), were conducted to clarify for this linkage in university
students. One study administered cohesion, expressiveness and conflict from FES to
investigate first five ego strengths of Erikson’s theory, while another administered
cohesion and expressiveness to investigate fidelity only. They found that ego
strengths were positively correlated with family cohesion and expressiveness, and
was negatively correlated with family conflict. Nevertheless, the external validities
of the results were greatly constrained due to the exclusion of love, care and wisdom
in their assessments. Especially, the love strength is asserted as the main pursuit of
university students, who regarded as young adults, according to Erikson. Usage of
single indicator of ego strengths in their methodology also demolished the
possibility for explicit analyses. The linkage between family and Erikson’s theory is
needed to be reexamined with incorporation and more detailed analysis of eight ego
strengths.
Family impact on Well-Being
The concepts of self-esteem, depression and life satisfaction were frequently adapted
for assessment to justify the degree of well-being in family research (Lawton 1984,
Burt et al. 1988, Ryff 1989). In fact, measurements of positive psychological
resources as well as diathesis of psychopathology are desirable for comprehensive
indication of adjustment (Shek 1989, 1993).
Self-esteem, defined as the overall evaluation toward self-worthiness, has
consistent positive relationship with family functioning (Brown et al. 2001).
Children experienced inappropriate parental attitudes and behaviors tended to be
impaired in self-esteem (Kernis et al. 2000). In normal American adolescents, family
cohesion, conflict and active-recreational orientation were strongly related to
self-esteem whereas family expressiveness and independence were not related
statistically (Hirsch et al. 1985). Another study recruited Chinese adolescents with
similar ages only yielded weaker but significant correlations. Family cohesion and
conflict had moderate correlations with self-esteem, while family expressiveness,
independence, active-recreational orientation and moral-religious emphasis were
weakly correlated (Cheung and Lau 1985). Despite of the cultural difference, the
aforementioned studies only carried out superficial explorations of self-esteem
(Rosenberg 1965). An influential theoretical premise on self-esteem is elucidated by
Shavelson’s model which emphasized the hierarchy of different aspects of self
underlying a so-called “self-esteem” (Shavelson et al. 1976). General trends of
research in Western and Eastern are to invest much more attention on linking the
multiple facets of self-esteem and family functioning (Wells 1976, Wylie 1979,
Cheng and Watkins 2000).
The assessment of depression as an indicator of well-being was a searching for
presence of chronological symptoms. Family factors were empirically validated in
the development, maintenance and relapse of depression in children and adolescent
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Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
(Sander and McCarty 2005). Most notably, rejection during childhood and
overwhelming parental control were somehow associated with clinical depression in
Adult (Gladstone and Parker 2005). In terms of FES, family conflict was positively
related to depression, while family cohesion, active-recreational orientation and
moral-religious emphasis were negatively related in children and adolescent
(Friedrich et al. 1982, Stark et al. 1990); and the scores of cohesion, expressiveness
and conflict were indicators of less depression and psychosomatic complaints in
adult (Holahan and Moos 1982).
Life satisfaction is one of the main components of subjective well-being which
strongly determined by parental warmth and conflict (Diener 1984, Love and
Murdock 2004). In a sample of Chinese adolescents, high life satisfaction was
correlated with positive parental style, low parental conflict and less family
dysfunction (Shek 1997). Across samples of different age groups and cultures,
family has been proved as the strongest predictor of life satisfaction among various
psychosocial resources such as peer and school (Lewinsohn et al. 1991,
Sepahmansour and Bayat, 2011).
Proposed Conceptual Models
There are evidences declaring complicated interrelations and mixed models may
exist between family influences, ego strengths and well-being. On the one hand,
psychosocial maturity is conducive to well-being. Ego strength was positively
related to self-esteem and purpose in life, and was negatively related to sense of
hopelessness and personal distress (Markstrom et al. 1997). On the other hand, the
effects of family and psychosocial maturity may be aligned in the same direction on
individual functioning. Parent’s divorce occurred in childhood can impair the
relationship interaction and satisfaction of adult (Amato 1996). Nonetheless, a ten
year longitudinal study reported that personality trait was a more significant
predictor than divorce in childhood on the future relationship quality during
adulthood (Burns and Dunlop 2000). It should be noticed that only multivariate
analysis was conducted in this study but not testing for mediation and moderation.
This was coincident with most of the research designs of aforementioned studies
which were mainly correlational and hence cannot infer, if any, mechanisms. In
other words, building on the inadequate knowledge, only obscure conclusion about
the interrelations could be drawn from the literature. One hypothetical possibility is
that family environment can promote ego strengths, which then promotes well-being
as shown in Figure 1. Another possibility is that moderation effect on family
environment and well-being may be produced by ego strength as shown in Figure 2.
That is, the enhancement of family climate on well-being may either through
increasing of or dependent on ego strength.
Family Climate
Figure 1.
Ego Strength
Hypothesized model of Mediation.
Well-being
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Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
Ego Strength
Family Climate
Figure 2.
Well-being
Hypothesized model of Moderation.
The Present Study
This study was designed to investigate the family influence on young adult’s
psychosocial maturity and well-being. Specifically, the interrelations among family
climates, Erikson’s eight ego strengths, self-esteem, depression and life satisfaction
were examined by applying FES on Chinese young adult. It is hypothesized family
climate that is cohesive, expressive, low conflict and that emphasized greatly on
personal growth would lead to mature ego strengths as well as functional well-being.
The positive relations between family climates and well-being are expected to be
either mediated or moderated by ego strengths. Given that the researching of family
influences on adult is relatively insufficient, it is valuable to explore, from an
unheeded point of theoretical view, if there are any underlying family forces shaping
the adult’s development through mediation or moderation of psychosocial maturity.
Methodology
Subjects
Total of 202 Hong Kong participants, including 102 males and 99 females, were
recruited in this study. To suit the definition of young adults, the ages of participants
ranged from 18 to 23, with a mean of 21.4. Full-time students (76.4%) occupied
greater proportion than full-time workers (22.6%) in the sample. Participants were
mostly holders of bachelor degree (83.9%). Majority of them came from nuclear
family (96.9%) and still living with their two biological parents (89.2%). Since
many participants are living with siblings (77.7%), the most common family size is
four members (50%).
Instruments
A self-reported questionnaire consisted of five main parts assessing family climate,
psychosocial maturity, self-esteem, depression and life satisfaction respectively, and
was attached in Appendix A with the scoring keys attached in Appendix B.
Family Climate was assessed using Chinese Version of Family Environment
Scale (FES-CV) which is developed by Philips and his colleagues in 1991. FES-CV
measures actual social environment perceived within family (Moos, 1974; Moos and
Moos, 1981). According to the reviewed literature, only six out of nine subscales of
FES-CV were selected for the purpose of this study. These six selected subscales,
composed of 9-items each, included cohesion, the degree of family members are
supportive and committed to each other; expressiveness, how freely can family
members express their feelings in a direct way; conflict, the likelihood of family
members express conflict or with angry manner in daily interactions; independence,
the power of family members in making own decisions that fully authorized by
others; active-recreational orientation, the initiative of family members participated
and enjoyed in entertaining activities; and moral-religious emphasis, the extent to
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Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
which family members heavily held moral values and religious issues. These 54
items were in the format of true or false questions commenting statements that
described a particular dimension of family climate perceived. The internal
consistencies as expressed in Cronbach’s alphas for cohesion, expressiveness,
conflict, independence, active-recreational orientation and moral-religious emphasis
were .83, .65, .70, .17, .62 and .27, respectively. Item 8 of expressiveness scale and
item 3 of conflict scale were deleted to improve their reliabilities. Independence and
moral-religious emphasis were dropped out from the analysis due to their
unacceptable inconsistencies.
For the measure of psychosocial maturity, the 32-items short form of The
Psychosocial Inventory of Ego Strengths (PIES) was employed and translated into
Chinese by authors (Markstrom et al. 1997). This 32-items short form yielded
similar reliability with original 64-items version that no scales had differences
higher than .10 in Cronbach’s alphas. The convergent and divergent validities were
also maintained consistently in two versions. Two opposite themes were assessed in
each of the eight ego strengths: hope, will, purpose, competence, fidelity, love,
caring and wisdom. There were 1 positively oriented item and 1 antipathic item in
each theme of ego strengths that consistent with the assertion from Erikson (1985)
that a balance in the continuum of ego identity is most desirable for healthy
functioning individual. Scores of ego strengths were rated on a 5-point Likert scale
with 1 representing does not describe me well and 5 representing describe me very
well. The Cronbach’s alphas for each ego strength and their total scores were as
follow: Hope (.65), Will (.55), Purpose (.63), Competence (.65), Fidelity (.53), Love
(.70), Care (.72), and Wisdom (.70). Item 4 of Love scale was deleted to improve its
reliability.
To measure self-esteem, the Chinese Adolescent Self-Esteem Scales (CASES)
was used (Cheng 1997, 2005). CASES was developed specifically to capture the
construct of self-concept in Hong Kong adolescent, yet can also be applied to young
adult. It held a hierarchical as well as multidimensional view of structure of
self-esteem with a general evaluation of self and six domain-specific evaluations of
the self. The evaluations of general self, family self, social self and moral self were
incorporated into the questionnaires amounted to 34 items. Responses were rated on
a 7-point Likert scale with 1 representing strongly disagree and 7 representing
strongly agree. For the present study, the internal consistencies of general self,
family self, social self and moral self were .90, .93, .88 and .89, respectively.
Depression was assessed by the Chinese version of the Center for
Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D; Chien and Cheng, 1985; Radloff,
1977). CES-D consisted of 20 items measuring major symptoms of depression in
general population. Responses were rated on a Likert scale indicating the
frequencies of occurrences of symptoms during the past two weeks with 0
representing rarely or none of the time (less than 1 day), 1 representing some of a
little of the time (1-2 days), 2 representing occasionally or a moderate amount of the
time (3-4 days), and 3 representing most or all of the time (5-7 days). The internal
consistency of this measure for the present study was .92.
The assessment of life satisfaction employed Chinese version of the Satisfaction
With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al. 1985, Shek 1992). SWLS measures a global
evaluation of life satisfaction based on cognitive judgments. 5 items were rated on a
7-point Likert scale with 1 representing strongly disagree and 7 representing strongly
agree. Internal consistency for the current study was .86.
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Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
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Procedures
The administrations of questionnaires were conducted through two different means.
The first means was by distribution of questionnaires in paper. Each questionnaire
was delivered directly from the researcher. The second means was by forward of
website containing online survey. Content of survey was kept to be equal to the
paper version. All participants were recruited in voluntary basis. At the beginning of
the questionnaires, debriefings of research purpose were cited and informed
consents were collected. Participants were then encouraged to answer in light of
their own understandings of the questions.
Statistical Analyses
For the purpose of data reduction, the Erikson’s eight ego strengths were extracted
by principal component analysis and then rotated in varimax method. As indicated in
Table 1, these eight scales yielded two factors by which Erikson’s (1968) lifespan
theory predicted. The first factor loaded by Love (.77) and Care (.88) was named as
ascending egos since they represent the dominant crises currently facing by young
adult. The second factor loaded by Hope (.70), Will (.83), Purpose (.82),
Competence (.75), Fidelity (.69), and Wisdom (.78) was named as descending egos
as they were recessive ego strengths according to epigenetic principle (Erikson,
1968, 1985). Their scores were computed by averaging scores from corresponding
ego strengths. Overall indicator of ego resiliency was also obtained from average
scores of all ego strengths. The Cronbach’s alphas for ego resiliency, ascending egos
and descending egos were .90, .78 and .90 respectively. These resorted ego strengths
would be interpreted in later sections instead of Erikson’s eight ego strengths.
Table 1.
Rotated Factor Loadings of Erikson’s Ego Strengths in Varimax method.
Component
Ascending Egos
Hope
Will
Purpose
Competence
Fidelity
Love
Care
Wisdom
Descending Egos
.70
.83
.82
.75
.69
.77
.88
.78
Factor loadings smaller than .400 were suppressed.
The testing of mediation and moderation effects was conducted applying
approaches suggested by of Barron and Kenny (1986) and Holmbeck (1997). The
hypothesized testing model was depicted in Figure 3. There were three steps in
testing mediation effects through multiple regressions. First, various indicators of
well-being were regressed on family climates to prove that the influences of
predictor variables on criterion variables were existed for which can be mediated.
Second, ego strengths were regressed on family climates to establish a valid linkage
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Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
between mediators and predictor variables. Third, mediations were tested by
hierarchical multiple regression of various well-beings on ego strengths with family
climates controlled. It should be noticed that step three was executed if only the
simple regressions in steps one and two were significant, although some other
authors argued that it is not necessary (see MacKinnon et al. 2000). Separate
analyses were conducted to test the mediation effects of ego resiliency, ascending
egos and descending egos.
Ego strengths treated as the moderators which varied linearly with the
relationships between independent variables and dependent variables were examined
by both simultaneous and hierarchical multiple regressions (Barron and Kenny 1986,
Holmbeck 1997). The regression coefficients of family climates and ego strengths in
simultaneous regressions of well-beings were not necessarily significant, and hence
moderation effects were test with all possible combinations of predicator, moderator
and criterion variables. Their interaction terms created after centering of each
variable were assessed in hierarchical multiple regressions for moderation effects
(Aiken and West 1991). Significant effects of moderation were interpreted by
plotting the graphs with three regression lines representing different levels of
moderator (Whisman and McClelland 2005).
Ego Strength
Ego Resiliency
Ascending Egos
Descending Egos
Well-Being
Family Climate
Cohesion
Expressiveness
Conflict
Active-Recreational
Orientation
Figure 3.
General Self
Family Self
Social Self
Moral Self
Depression
Life Satisfaction
Testing model of Simple Regressions, Mediations and Moderations
Results
Descriptive Statistic
The means and standard deviations of all variables categorized by both genders,
male and female were presented in Table 2.
67
Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
Table 2.
Family
Climates
Erikson’s
Ego
Strengths
Resorted
Ego
Strengths
Means and Standard Deviations for Both Genders, Male and Female.
Total
Male
Female
M
SD
M
SD
M
SD
Cohesion
Expressiveness
Conflict
ARO
15.54
2.62
15.66
2.52
15.41
2.73
13.95
2.15
13.73
2.12
14.17
2.19
12.24
2.21
11.90
2.07
12.59
2.32
13.86
2.18
13.73
2.31
14.03
2.03
Hope
Will
Purpose
13.17
2.59
13.32
2.80
13.01
2.37
12.25
2.59
12.42
2.67
12.06
2.53
13.09
2.89
13.22
3.06
12.96
2.74
Competence
Fidelity
Love
Care
13.28
2.79
13.24
3.02
13.33
2.56
13.29
2.60
13.19
2.93
13.40
2.24
14.79
2.56
14.91
2.62
14.68
2.52
14.65
2.54
14.47
2.71
14.85
2.35
Wisdom
12.42
3.01
12.54
3.30
12.29
2.72
Ego Resiliency
Ascending Egos
Descending
Egos
13.35
1.95
13.37
2.13
13.34
1.77
14.72
2.20
14.69
2.27
14.76
2.13
12.90
2.16
12.95
2.39
12.85
1.94
4.71
1.05
4.64
1.14
4.78
0.95
5.16
Family Self
4.58
Social Self
5.17
Moral Self
21.94
Depression
Life Satisfaction 20.47
1.04
5.16
1.03
5.16
1.06
1.00
4.52
1.11
4.64
0.87
0.83
5.14
0.87
5.21
0.78
12.25
22.89
13.06
20.95
11.33
5.76
20.42
6.52
20.52
4.93
General Self
ARO= Active-recreational orientation.
Correlation Analyses
Table 3 was a bivariate correlations matrix of different dimensions in family
climates, ego strengths and criteria of well-being. All of the effect sizes of Pearson
coefficient correlations were judged by suggestion of Cohen (1992). Scatter plots
were generated to all correlations so as to ensure no clear curvilinear relationships
existed by visual check of researchers.
Family climates were generally related to ego strengths and criteria of
well-being. In positive direction, while cohesion, expressiveness and
active-recreational orientation were all correlated with ego resiliency, expressiveness
was also correlated to descending egos, and active-recreational orientation was
further correlated to ascending egos as well as descending egos. Besides, cohesion,
expressiveness and active-recreational orientation were positively correlated with
self-esteems except moral self, and life satisfaction, and were negatively correlated
with depression. Differed from the patterns of weak correlations from
expressiveness and active-recreational orientation, cohesion was moderately
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Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
correlated with family self, weakly correlated with life satisfaction, and very weakly
correlated with general self, social self and depression. Conflict was only negatively
correlated with family self in weak effect size.
Ego strengths were related to almost all criteria of well-being ranged from
weak to medium effect sizes. The exceptions were that ascending egos could not
correlate with life satisfaction and that descending egos could not correlate with
family self. Other than that, ego resiliency, ascending egos and descending egos
were positively related to all self-esteems and life satisfaction, and were negatively
related to depression.
Simple Regression Analyses
As the prerequisite procedures of testing mediation, criterion variables of family
climates were identified using simple regression. This was pertaining to the first and
second steps suggested by Barron and Kenny (1986) and the resulting patterns were
consistent to what obtained in correlation matrix. Cohesion predicted higher levels of
ego resiliency, β = .14, p < .05; general self, β = .15, p < .05, family self, β = .53, p
< .001; social self, β = .15, p < .05; and life satisfaction, β = .28, p < .001; and lower
level of depression, β = -20, p < .01. Higher level of expressiveness indicated higher
levels of ego resiliency, β = .18, p < .05; descending egos, β = .08, p < .05; general
self, β = .24, p < .01; family self, β = .31, p < .001; social self, β = .20, p < .01; and
life satisfaction, β = .31, p < . 001; and lower level of depression, β = -23, p < .001.
Conflict predicted lower level of family self, β =-.38, p < .001. Active-recreational
orientation was a significant predictor of higher ego resiliency, β = .18, p < .05;
ascending egos, β = .17, p < .05; descending egos, β = .29, p < .001; general self, β
= .28, p < .001; family self, β = .17, p < .05; social self, β = .28, p < .001; and life
satisfaction, β = .26, p < .001; and lower depression, β = -21, p < .001. In brief, all
family climates were feasible to be tested with mediations except conflict due to its
non-significant regressions of all ego strengths.Total six pathways of mediations
included cohesion to ego resiliency, expressiveness to ego resiliency and descending
egos, and active-recreational orientation to all three ego strengths were consequently
tested.
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70
Table 3. Bivariate Correlations Matrix of Family Climates, Ego Strengths, Self-Esteems, Depression and Life Satisfaction.
1.
2.
3.
4.
Cohesion
Expressiveness
Conflict
ARO
1
2
.47**
-.39**
.33**
-.01
.31**
*
3
*
5.
6.
7.
8.
Ego Resiliency
Ascending Egos
Descending Egos
General Self
.14
.13
.09
.15*
.18
.05
.18*
.24**
9.
Family Self
.53**
.31**
-.01
.02
-.02
-.05
**
10. Social Self
.15
.20
11. Moral Self
12. Depression
13. Life Satisfaction
.13
-.17*
.28**
.08
-.23**
.31**
-.00
.08
-.12
**
5
6
7
8
9
.33**
.17*
.29**
.28**
.51**
.86**
.73**
.00
.26**
.69**
.17*
.29**
.34**
.14
.32**
.28**
.60**
.30**
.52**
.56**
.23**
.18
.56**
-.23** -.51**
.26** .46**
.51**
-.21**
.02
.35**
-.46**
.52**
.47**
-.57**
.50**
.35**
-.27**
.28**
10
11
12
.56**
-.40**
.43**
-.32**
.35**
-.36**
.10
-.38
.10
*
4
Note. ARO = Active-recreational orientation; * = p <.05, ** = p <.01, two-tailed.
Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
Mediation Effects
A series of hierarchical multiple regressions based on six aforementioned pathways
were conducted to search for the mediation effects of ego strengths between family
climates and various well-beings. The significance of indirect effect from
hypothesized mediation models were tested by Sobel’s test (1982). A complicated
pattern of mediations was obtained showing that family climates influence multiple
indicators of well-being through different mediators.
Table 4.
Hierarchical Multiple Regression testing Ego Resiliency as Mediators of
Cohesion on indicators of Well-being.
β
R²
Predictor
Mediator
Predictor
Mediator
Predicting General Self
Step 1
Cohesion
.15*
.02
***
Step 2
Cohesion
ER
.05
.72
.53
Predicting Family Self
Step 1
Cohesion
.53***
.28
Step 2
Cohesion
ER
.49***
.21***
.32
Predicting Social Self
Step 1
Cohesion
.15*
.02
***
Step 2
Cohesion
ER
.08
.58
.36
Predicting Depression
Step 1
Cohesion
-.18*
.03
Step 2
Cohesion
ER
-.09
-.49***
.27
Predicting Life Satisfaction
Step 1
Cohesion
.28***
.08
***
***
Step 2
Cohesion
ER
.23
.42
.26
Note. ER = Ego Resiliency; *= p<.05, ***= p<.001.
As shown in Table 4, effects of cohesion partially mediated through ego
resiliency on general self (z = 2.03, p < .05), social self (z = 2.00, p < .05), and
depression (z = -2.01, p < .05). Since cohesion remained significant in predicting life
satisfaction (z = 1.96, p < .05), ego resiliency was only functioned as partial
mediator. No mediation of ego resiliency existed between cohesion and family self.
Table 5 presented the effects of expressiveness on social self through mediators
of ego resiliency (z = 2.43, p < .01) and descending egos (z = 2.47, p < .01).
Expressiveness remained significant after adding partial mediators using ego
resiliency on predicting general self (z = 2.48, p < .01), family self (z = 2.13, p < .05),
depression (z = -2.39, p < .05) and life satisfaction (z = 2.36, p < .05); and using
descending ego on predicting general self (z = 2.54, p < .01), depression (z = -2.42, p
< .05) and life satisfaction (z = 2.46, p < .01). No mediation of descending egos
existed between expressiveness and family self.
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Table 5.
Hierarchical Multiple Regression testing Ego Strengths as Mediators of
Expressiveness on indicators of Well-being.
β
R²
Predictor
Mediators
Predictor
Mediators
Predicting General Self
Step 1
Expressiveness
.24**
.06
*
***
Step 2 (M1)
Expressiveness
ER
.18
.71
.55
Step 2 (M2)
Expressiveness
DE
.12*
.67***
.49
Predicting Family Self
Step 1
Expressiveness
.31***
.10
Step 2 (M1)
Expressiveness
ER
.27***
.24***
.16
***
**
Step 2 (M2)
Expressiveness
DE
.28
.18
.13
Predicting Social Self
Step 1
Expressiveness
.20**
.04
***
Step 2 (M1)
Expressiveness
ER
.10
.58
.36
***
Step 2 (M2)
Expressiveness
DE
.12
.50
.28
Predicting Depression
Step 1
Expressiveness
-.23**
.05
*
***
Step 2 (M1)
Expressiveness
ER
-.15
-.48
.28
Step 2 (M2)
Expressiveness
DE
-.15*
-.48***
.28
Predicting Life Satisfaction
Step 1
Expressiveness
.31***
.10
Step 2 (M1)
Expressiveness
ER
.25***
.41***
.27
***
***
Step 2 (M2)
Expressiveness
DE
.23
.47
.28
Note. ER = Ego Resiliency; DE = Descending Egos; M1 = Expressiveness mediates
through Ego Resiliency; M2 = Expressiveness mediates through Descending Egos;
*= p<.05, **= p<.01, ***= p<.001.
Active-recreational orientation predicted well-being through all kind of
mediators as noted in Table 6. Ego resiliency partially mediated general self (z =
4.58, p < .001), family self (z = 2.80, p = .01), social self (z = 4.34, p < .001),
depression (z = -4.39, p < .001) and life satisfaction (z = 4.08, p < .001). Ascending
egos partially mediated family self (z = 2.11, p = .03) and acted as partial mediators
of general self (z = 1.89, p= .06), social self (z = 2.01, p = .04) and depression (z =
-2.00, p = .05). No mediation of ascending egos existed between Active-recreational
orientation and life satisfaction. Descending egos partially mediated of general self
(z = 4.03, p < .001), family self (z = 2.28, p = .02), depression (z = -3.70, p < .001)
and life satisfaction (z = 3.70, p < .001); and acted as partial mediator of social self
(z = 3.70, p < .001). The standardized indirect effects for these partial mediations
were calculated and presented in Table 7 (Shrout and Bogler 2002).
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Table 6. Hierarchical Multiple Regression testing Ego Strengths as Mediators of
Active- recreational orientation on indicators of Well-being.
β
R²
Predictor
Mediators
Predictor
Mediators
Predicting General Self
Step 1
ARO
.28***
.08
***
Step 2 (M1)
ARO
ER
.04
.72
.53
Step 2 (M2)
ARO
AE
.25***
.21**
.13
***
Step 2 (M3)
ARO
DE
.09
.67
.49
Predicting Family Self
Step 1
ARO
.17*
.03
***
Step 2 (M1)
ARO
ER
.10
.26
.09
***
Step 2 (M2)
ARO
AE
.13
.32
.13
Step 2 (M3)
ARO
DE
.12
.19*
.07
Predicting Social Self
Step 1
ARO
.28***
.08
Step 2 (M1)
ARO
ER
.10
.56***
.36
***
***
Step 2 (M2)
ARO
AE
.24
.26
.14
*
***
Step 2 (M3)
ARO
DE
.15
.48
.29
Predicting Depression
Step 1
ARO
-.23**
.05
***
Step 2 (M1)
ARO
ER
-.07
-.49
.26
Step 2 (M2)
ARO
AE
-.17*
-.27***
.12
***
Step 2 (M3)
ARO
DE
-.07
-.49
.26
Predicting Life Satisfaction
Step 1
ARO
.26***
.07
Step 2 (M1)
ARO
ER
.12
.42***
.22
***
Step 2 (M2)
ARO
AE
.24
.07
.07
***
Step 2 (M3)
ARO
DE
.12
.48
.28
Note. ARO= Active-recreational orientation; ER = Ego Resiliency; AE = Ascending
Egos; DE = Descending Egos; M1 = Active-recreational orientation mediates
through Ego Resiliency; M2 = Active-recreational orientation mediates through
Descending Egos; M3 = Active-recreational orientation mediates through Ascending
Egos; *= p<.05, **= p<.01, ***= p<.001.
Moderation Effects
Significant moderation effects on well-beings tested by interaction terms of ego
strengths and family climates were presented in Table 8. Raw regression weights
instead of betas were reported in the table as recommended by Whisman and
McClelland (2005). The additions of interaction terms in the above models
explained further total variances ranged from 1% to 5%. Amongst all family
climates, only active-recreational orientation had no pattern of interaction with ego
strengths.
For all ego strengths, the relationships between cohesion and moral self varied
in the same pattern. As shown in Figure 4, low level of ego strengths indicated
positive relationship; mild level of ego strengths indicated no relationship; and high
level of ego strengths indicated negative relationship. In overall, higher level of ego
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strengths predicted higher level of moral self.
Table 7.
Standardized Indirect Effects (%).
Cohesion
Expressiveness
ER
ER
ARO
DE
ER
AE
DE
General Self
66.7a
50.0 b 50.0 b
85.7 a
14.3 b
71.4 a
Family Self
13.3 b
37.5 a
25.0 a
34.1 a
Social Self
50.0 a
44.4 a 44.4 a
69.2 a
15.4 b
46.2 b
Depression
48.6 a
35.0 b 37.1 b
70.2 a
25.6 b
68.4 a
Life Satisfaction
17.7b
21.7 b 25.3 b
53.6 a
53.6 a
Note. ARO = Active-recreational orientation; Mediators: ER = Ego Resiliency; AE
= Ascending Egos; DE = Descending Egos; aPredictors not remain significant in step
2; bPredictors remain significant in step 2.
Expressiveness was moderated by all ego strengths on moral self, and by ego
resiliency and descending egos on life satisfaction as evident from Figure 5 and 6.
The relationships between expressiveness and moral self were also equal to what
observed in cohesion and moral self across all ego strengths. There were interaction
effects emerged that lack of expressiveness predicted low level of life satisfaction
only when respondents also had low levels of ego resiliency and descending egos.
Table 8.
Hierarchical Multiple Regression testing Ego Strengths as Moderators
between Family Climates and indicators of Well-being.
R²
ΔR²
B
SE
Predicting Moral Self
Cohesion X Ego Resiliency
.37
.05
-.04***
.01
Cohesion X Ascending Egos
Cohesion X Descending Egos
.35
.03
-.03**
.01
.29
.05
-.03
***
.01
Expressiveness X Ego Resiliency
.35
.03
-.04**
.01
Expressiveness X Ascending Egos
.33
.02
-.03*
.01
Expressiveness X Descending Egos
.26
.03
-.03*
.01
Expressiveness X Ego Resiliency
.29
.02
-.22*
.09
Expressiveness X Descending Egos
.32
.02
-.18*
.08
Conflict X Ego Resiliency
.24
.02
-.18*
.08
.53
.02
-.04*
.02
.38
.01
-.02*
.01
Predicting Life Satisfaction
Predicting Family Self
Conflict X Ascending Egos
Predicting Social Self
Conflict X Descending Egos
Note. *= p<.05, **= p<.01,***= p<.001.
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6
6
5.8
5.8
5.6
5.6
5.4
5.4
5.2
High Ego Resiliency
Average Ego Resiliency
Low Ego Resiliency
5
4.8
Moral Self
Moral Self
75
5.2
High Ascending Egos
Average Ascending Egos
Low Ascending Egos
5
4.8
4.6
4.6
4.4
4.4
4.2
4.2
4
4
Low
High
Low
Cohesion
High
Cohesion
5.8
5.6
5.4
Moral Self
5.2
5
High Descending Egos
Average Descending Egos
Low Descending Egos
4.8
4.6
4.4
4.2
4
Low
High
Cohesion
Figure 4.
Ego Resiliency, Ascending Egos, and Descending Egos as Moderators of the association between Cohesion and Moral Self.
Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
6
5.8
5.8
5.6
5.6
5.4
5.4
5.2
5.2
High Ego Resiliency
Average Ego Resiliency
Low Ego Resiliency
5
4.8
Moral Self
Moral Self
76
5
High Ascending Egos
Average Ascending Egos
Low Ascending Egos
4.8
4.6
4.6
4.4
4.4
4.2
4.2
4
4
Low
High
Low
Expressiveness
High
Expressiveness
6
5.8
5.6
Moral Self
5.4
5.2
High Descending Egos
Average Descending Egos
Low Descending Egos
5
4.8
4.6
4.4
4.2
4
Low
High
Expressiveness
Figure 5.
Self.
Ego Resiliency, Ascending Egos, and Descending Egos as Moderators of the association between Expressiveness and Moral
25
25
24
24
23
23
22
22
21
High Ego Resiliency
Average Ego Resiliency
Low Ego Resiliency
20
19
77
21
High Descending Egos
Average Descending Egos
Low Descending Egos
20
19
18
18
17
17
16
16
15
15
Low
High
Expressiveness
Figure 6.
Life Satisfaction
Life Satisfaction
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Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
Low
High
Expressiveness
Ego Resiliency and Descending Egos as Moderators of the association between Expressiveness and Life Satisfaction.
Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
25
78
6.5
24
23
6
21
High Ego Resiliency
Average Ego Resiliency
Low Ego Resiliency
20
19
Family Self
Life Satisfaction
22
5.5
High Ascending Egos
Average Ascending Egos
Low Ascending Egos
5
18
17
4.5
16
15
4
Low
High
Low
Conflict
High
Conflict
5.5
Social Self
5
4.5
High Descending Egos
Average Descending Egos
Low Descending Egos
4
3.5
3
Low
High
Conflict
Figure 7. Different Ego Strengths as respective Moderators of the associations between Conflict and Life Satisfaction, Family Self and
Social Self.
Discovery – SS Student E-Journal
Vol. 1, 2012, 60-90
The patterns that conflict moderated by ego resiliency on life satisfaction, by
ascending egos on family self, and by descending egos on social self were displayed
in Figure 7. For individuals with mild and high levels of ego resiliency, less life
satisfaction was shown when they had high conflict. Individuals with low level of
life satisfaction showed low life satisfaction whether they reported high or low
conflict. The negative relations between conflict and family self become much
stronger in respondents with higher levels of ascending egos. In contrast, the
positive relations between conflict and social self become much stronger in
respondents with lower levels of ascending egos. In overall, lower level of ego
strengths predicted lower level of all three outcomes.
Discussion and Conclusions
This paper primarily aimed at establishing the relationships of family climates with
ego strengths and well-beings in young adults. Four FES subscales-cohesion,
expressiveness, conflict and active-recreational orientation, are related to three forms
of ego strengths-ego resiliency, ascending egos and descending egos, which were
resorted from Erikson’s (1968) eight ego strengths, and to different indicators of
well-being. Apart from the direct relationships, complex pathways between FES
scores and multiple self-esteems, depression and life satisfaction were emerged that
three ego strengths either provided mediations, moderations, or both types of effects
at the same time.
Discussion
Opposed to some western research conducted on adolescents, this study discovered
that family has a set of significant relationships on young adults, who are assumed to
be much untouched in conventional wisdom (Hundert et al. 1988, Walker et al. 1988,
Alnajjar and Smadi 1998,). Generally, family climates that cohesive, expressive,
emphasized recreation and less conflictual were significantly related to greater ego
strengths and better well-beings. This is consistent with study of Frank et al. (1990)
that higher relatedness and less insecurity with family members plus unlimited
restriction on personal autonomy would lead to stable identity status and better
adjustment. Especially for this age group, ranged from 18 to 23 years old, of the
participants, the family climates may be more robust because majority of them still
expect to depend on their parent to cope with life (Frank et al. 1988).
The perception of different climates in family environment affected different
aspects of ego developments in young adults. Cohesion was only conducive to ego
resiliency; expressiveness was conducive to ego resiliency as well as descending
egos; while active-recreational orientation was conducive to ego resiliency,
ascending egos and descending egos. Conflict predicted no relationship with ego
strengths. To fully elaborate the linkages, definitions of all three resorted ego
strengths have to be reviewed. Ego resiliency is an aspect of personality that restores
overall toughness and strength of ego acuminated from resolutions of all possible
psychosocial crises at the present moment (Loevinger 1996, 1997). Ascending egos
characterized by love and care in young adults refers to the strengths acquired from
current psychosocial crisis of subjects, whereas descending egos characterized by
the rest of Erikson’s ego strengths refers to the residual qualities which are not
valued as essential, qualities that underlying current identity of the subjects. These
resorted ego strengths, thus, can be understood as total psychosocial resources,
conscious and unconscious identity statuses, respectively. The ways that family
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climates influence corresponding products of psychosocial maturity are indeed a
demonstration of how individual’s readiness and environment interplay to determine
the ascendance of ego strengths (Erikson 1964). Multiple social-cognitive factors
such as informational, normative and diffuse-avoidant styles in processing identity
(Berzonsky 1989), and achieved, moratorium, foreclosed and identity diffusion
approaches to form identity (Waterman 1999), were addressed as mediators
between family relationships and ego development (Adams et al. 2006). By
extension, a fascinating view might be that family climates influence ego strengths
through different pathways of identity processing styles and identity statuses.
With reference to pervious evidences, high cohesion and expressiveness within
family represented adequate self-expression in a warmth social context, which is
vital to identity development (Adams and Marshall 1996, Adams et al. 2000).
Active-recreational orientation, interestingly, unlike cohesion and expressiveness,
was related to all aspects of ego strengths. This may pointing to a fact that being
“friend” with family members, as demonstrated as participating in leisure activities
together, becomes the main task of adult that aims at transforming the relationships
with parents in a way that less intimate yet close enough. Similar behavioural
tendency has been predicted by the concept of individuation of adult stressing
separation of the world from parents without losing emotional connection (Murphy
et al. 1963, Frank et al. 1988). As for conflict, the nonsignificant relation with ego
strengths was out of expectation. Conflict resolution in family decision making was
assumed to strengthen psychosocial maturity included identity formation and ego
development (Grotevant and Cooper, 1985; Hauser, Powers and Noam, 1991). One
possible interpretation for the phenomenon that conflict and ego functioning as two
independent variables is that for family with too less conflict, successful negotiation
often occur that individual has learned to deal effectively with others. While for
family with too high conflict, isolation, instead of keep fighting, occurs at family
members that forced individuals depend on themselves (Moné et al. 2011). These
two circumstances located at opposite extreme of positions may foster a curvilinear,
other than linear, relationship between conflict and ego strengths.
Only in certain aspects, were family climates related directly to well-being that
as same as pervious studies (Burt et al. 1988, Lewinsohn et al. 1991). Greater
perceived cohesion, expressiveness and active-recreational orientation in family
predicted higher self-esteems except moral self, life satisfaction, and lower
depression. Contrary to research done in the past, cohesion and conflict were not
emerged as the most significant indicators of psychological outcome amongst the
FES subscales (Kleinman et al. 1989). Compared to expressiveness and
active-recreational orientation, cohesion had stronger positive relation with family
self but weaker positive relations with general self, social self and depression;
whereas conflict had negative relation with family self only. This reversed
importance of cohesion and conflict with active-recreational orientation suggest the
leisure activities with family members is somehow similar to the role of “play” in
child that free individual from internal and external stresses to promote personal
growth (Piaget 1962, Vygotsky 1967, Csikszentmihalyi 1975). As evidence, one
study investigated old adults participating in playful activities had improved
well-being (Lomranz et al. 1988). This transformed friended alike interaction with
parents, again, surmise the remaining salient impacts of cohesion and conflict on
family self since adult desired to earn approval from parents just as they need it from
friends (Epperson 1964).
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Mediation Effects
The emergence of ego strengths as mediators are embedded in the theoretical
background stating that family has direct and indirect effects on well-being
(Lamborn et al. 1991). Cohesion, expressiveness and active-recreational orientation
exerted partial indirect effects through different ego strengths on indicators of
well-being except moral self. Cohesive family climate would increase ego resiliency,
and hence benefit psychological well-being. This is somewhat albeit the better
psychological well-being in adult experienced trauma in childhood assisted
psychosocially (Punamaki 2001); and in patient with terminal disease received
supportive family environment (Christensen et al. 1988). Expressive interactions
with family members could increase ego resiliency and descending egos, which then
increased social self. The open sharing of feeling in family might provide secure
base to explore and experiment in interactions with others that leading to
synchronize own aspiration with societal expectation, and eventually boosted their
interest in interpersonal affiliation and social confidence (Kamptner 1998).
Active-recreational orientation had much indirect effects by ego resiliency and
descending egos on well-being than cohesion and expressiveness. A picture about
how growth and development in adult promoted by transforming into befriended
interactions with family members then become clear that by depicting the
mechanism as maturation in ego and unconscious identity. Transformed interaction
with parents benefiting adult not merely as accomplishment of task catalyzed by
individuation, but also as retracing of innate tendency of “play” in childhood
(Erikson 1950, Frank et al. 1988). Moreover, active-recreational orientation fostered
family self through all three resorted ego strengths. It is likely that the mutual
enjoyment of playing process, as a function of ego, have enhanced the belonging
and positive interactions between adults and their parents (Erikson 1950, Beckwith
1986).
Although in some mediation pathways, ego strengths only function as partial
mediators that family climates remain significant in predicting well-being, it was
generally suggested that an emotionally, linguistically and behaviourally tied family
environment can foster the strengths of egos for young adult so that they become
self-confident, less depressed and satisfied with life. The simultaneous growths in
ego and self-esteem were regarded as the product of cohesive and expressive family
environment which also value individuation to encourage both relatedness and
autonomy (Grotevant and Cooper 1983, 1986, Ryan and Lynch 1989, Allen et al.
1994). Balancing independence and sense of connection with parents was especially
reinforcing self-esteem (Joselson 1980). The protection against depression by
well-functioning family climates was probably achieved by the minimization of
affectionless control by parents perceived in adults (Nomura et al. 2002). The
inflated life satisfaction was by family providing resources to pursuit the priority of
life task and activities, as mentioned by Erickson (1968), which gained the most
satisfaction for them (Chang et al. 2003); and to assist adult in interpreting life
experience in a positive and coherent way that lead to successful self-transformation
of roles, thus promote greater life satisfaction through increasing ego resiliency (Pals
2006).
Moderation Effects
Two distinct patterns of moderation effects were generated by ego strengths between
family climates and indicators of well-being. The first pattern is the effects of
cohesion and expressiveness on moral self moderated by all ego strengths. For
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young adult with low ego strengths, the degree of moral self increases with family
climates; while for young adult with high ego strengths, the degree of moral self
decreases with family climates. The moral self for adults in the group of high ego
was greater than the group of low ego. This portrayed deficiency in psychosocial
maturity inhibited adults to demonstrate their capacity of own moral judgement and
strength of caring, but this can be compensated by intimacy expressed by family
members, which act as resilient factors to motivate individuals to concern for others.
Adults low in ego strength would need supportive and eliciting interactions from
parents for moral development (Walker and Taylor 1991). And adults high in ego
strength have achieved autonomous that would disagree with parent’s opinions in
certain situations, therefore, their standard of moral self cannot be predicted from the
parents’ interaction or moral reasoning as cited in literature (Haan et al. 1976). This
inconsistent relationship between family climates and moral self also accounted for
the failed mediation by ego strengths mentioned above.
The second pattern is the effects of conflict interacting with ego strengths on
well-beings. High life satisfaction predicted by less conflict was only perceived in
young adult with strong ego resiliency. The deficiency in psychosocial resources
may deteriorate the capacity to integrate life events to a positive end despite of
presence of low conflict with family (Pals 2006). Family self had a much stronger
negative relationships with conflict in young adults with high ascending egos. Low
social self predicted by less conflict was much significant in young adult with weak
descending egos. These individuals with coherent and conscious identity are more
likely to engage in defining mutual goals with parents, which accompanies frequent
arguments and criticisms with family members but more social confidence
(Kamptner 1998). The unexpected result for lowest life satisfaction and social self in
groups of low ego strengths but also low conflict revealed a tendency for
compromise in young adult with week coherent and unconscious identity would
avoid argument and hidden in the surface phenomenon of “peace” in family
(Maccoby and Martin 1983).
Mediation and Moderation Effects
Relationship between expressiveness and life satisfaction was both mediated and
moderated by ego resiliency and descending egos. Mediation effects pointed out that
family with low ego resiliency and descending egos are pathways of repressed
revealing of feeling and dissatisfaction with life. However, moderation effects
suggested that unexpressed adults are dissatisfied only if they also have low
resiliency of ego and descending egos. This can be elaborated on one hand,
unexpressed feeling and thought towards family members turn individual to be less
resourceful and resilient, and hence feel less contented; on the other hand, individual
with higher resiliency learnt how to manage themselves even the family members
cannot behave as good communicators and generated less negative cognitive view of
life. This demonstrated an example of one type of the moderated mediations
(Preacher et al. 2007). Expressiveness not only promotes life satisfaction through
ego strength but also affects their relationship that low ego strengths would not
necessarily lead to dissatisfaction if people live in an expressive family climate. Of
course, this hypothetical moderation mediation has to be clarified with further
investigation.
Implications
Perhaps here is the appropriate point to reconsolidate the major implications from
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the huge amount of findings. These implications contributed to both the literatures of
family and Erikson’s theory. For family literature, the role of family played on adult
was well established from the aspects of personal characteristics and well-being.
This study serves as rare evidence to discover mediation and moderation factors
from family to psychological outcomes should inspire a specific theory about family
impact on adult (Darling and Steinberg 1993). Several pieces of information could
be functioned as corner stones. The reversed importance of cohesion and conflict
with active-recreational orientation implied relationships with parents are
transformed that close to friendship. That mutual participation in leisure had
recognized, although unheeded in literature, as vital ingredient of constituting a
well-functioning family in perspectives of family researching (Stinnett et al. 1982,
Curran 1983). The distinctive pattern of conflict on adult also suggested its impact
may not be obvious and more factors should be identified as moderators. As a matter
of fact, conflict is a complex concept whose nature varies depending on with whom
and about what is subject arguing (Semtana et al. 1991, Hanson et al. 1996). Besides,
the three resorted ego strengths interact with family and well-being in different
combinations verified how different situational and personal mediators might exert
their impact on different adjustments (Farber et al. 1985). The instrumentation of
large amount of variables would help to avoid overgeneralization or
oversimplification of family impact.
As enrichment of Erikson’s theory, the usage of ascending egos and descending
egos as respective to eight traditional ego strengths opened a new perspective to his
theory and structure of psychosocial maturity. Ascending egos and descending egos
can be conceptualized as the conscious and unconscious identities consolidated from
dominant and recessive ego virtues. It should be noticed that ascending egos and
descending egos were computed from factor analysis, and hence they have zero
correlation with each other. These products from principle component analysis,
which demonstrated its effectiveness in mediating and moderating family climates
and well-beings, reject Erikson’s (1968, 1985) ideas that pervious ego virtues would
contribute to actualizing of later ego strengths by merging as parts of them. The
relatively higher degrees of love and care, and relatively lower degrees of will and
wisdom in samples were also called into questions. Society has known contributes to
the ascendance of ego virtues, but it was unclear that this uneven distribution of ego
strengths is a result of characteristics of Hong Kong young adult, cohort effect, or
nature of true human development (Erikson 1964). Further, findings suggested that
transforming the relationship with family as a friend in interaction might be another
psychosocial crisis faced by young adult.
Limitations
The findings of this paper should be interpreted with caution due to the limitations on
the design. First, the sample size of this study was relatively small. Detection of
significant effects in regression analysis was greatly constrained by small sample size
(MacKinnon et al. 1995, Frazier et al. 2004). Second, the current study recruited
convenience samples composed mainly of young adults who born in nuclear family
and still living with parents. Thus, the results may not generalize to people growing
up in stepfamily, single-parent family and divorced family that raised by different
caregivers. It is normal in Hong Kong that adults not live with their parents anymore.
In 2009, people aged 18 and over had around 75% moved out from home and around
33% lost their parents (Census and Statistics Department, 2010). Third, this study
solely adopted a cross-sectional design to examine mediation and moderation effects.
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To validate cause and effect, true experiment, or, in this case, longitudinal study with
advanced statistical analysis such as SEM, is recommended to be used instead
(Preacher and Hayes 2008, Rosopa and Stone-Romero 2008). Validity of moderating
effect is also questionable that one study found buffering effect of family environment
on negative events and stress in cross-sectional analyzes but not in later longitudinal
analyzes (Burt et al. 1988). Forth, measures in this study were all based on self-report
methods. Investigations relied on self-report data to assess family system have been
greatly criticized (Sabatelli and Bartle 1995). One possible outcome of this approach
is that the significant relations reported are merely the results of common method
variance (Doty and Glick 1998). Multiple indicators from different domains such as
reports of FES from parents and siblings, and observation utilizing behavioral
checklist could serve as ideal substitutes (Shek 1997). Fifth, the obtaining of
ascending egos and descending egos were based on factor analysis of scale scores of
eight Erikson’s ego strengths. Although this procedure is built on theoretical
consideration, but a more statistically appropriate way should be conducting factor
analysis of all items of PIES (Costello and Osboren 2005, DiStefano et al. 2009). Last,
due to the cultural differences, these findings originated from Chinese society may not
apply equally into Western culture. It is reasonable to believe that the values
emphasizing on harmony and interpersonal relatedness constitute a much significant
impact of family on Chinese young adult than their Western counterparts (Yang 1981,
Ho 1986,).
Future Studies
Further evidence was needed to establish the unheeded but complex relationship
between family environment and adult. Based on the findings of this study, more
psychological outcomes or factors that acted as moderated mediators or mediated
moderators could be identified in the linkages. Complete employment of FES could
reveal more influences of family climates as well as their relative sizes of effects.
Renewed and validated reliable FES in Chinese culture must be designed with
clinically significant t-scores established for these applications. Also, future studies
could be replicated with sample varied in bigger size, older age group and different
cultures.
Conclusions
In closing, the findings are, to some extent, agreeable to Moos’s (1974) asserted
framework that family climates, personal characteristics and well-beings of family
members are mutually influencing each other, and to Erikson’s (1985) epigenetic
principle that various forms of ego coexist with different degrees of salience at a
given point of life. The highlight of complementary effects between family
environment and psychosocial maturity of adult is illuminating that restated why
needs of relatedness and autonomy should both be promoted for optimal functioning
(Kandel and Lesser 1972). The essence to balance independence and emotional
connection with family refers back to an old notion from psychoanalytic approach
questioning the achievement of “deeper autonomy of individualism” in human being
(Douvan and Adelson 1966).
Acknowledgements
I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation and gratitude to those
without whom this thesis would have been much harder, if not possible.
First of all, to my dearest family, I must offer my heartfelt thanks for your love, your
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never-ending support, and the countless affection and patience which have motivated and
sustained me from any difficulties and stresses encountered. It is your extraordinary caring
inspired me to research the impact of family.
I have to thank my supervisor, Dr. Christopher Cheng, for his invaluable support and
guidance on the whole research design, statistical analyses and thesis writing, and for his
assistance in data collection. Moreover, warm thank are due to Dr. Anna Hui for the allowance in
distributing questionnaires during her tuition time. I am also thankful to Dr. Ben Li for his useful
advices in statistical methods.
Special thanks are given to people who voluntarily recruit participants for my research
without asking any returns. I am particularly touched by Tommy Choi and Sonia Chan, each of
them had collect plenty of data for me. Besides, I would like to thank Terrence Chau and Cantona
Kan for persuading their colleagues to participate. Their contributions have expanded the size as
well as diversity of my sample.
Last but not least, I am grateful to all the participants in this research. I know my
questionnaires required much consuming of time and efforts. Yet, many have devoted their hearts
in completing answering questions. Their benevolences and passions for participating in scientific
research constitute the meaningful results in this study.
Biographic Note
Mr. Wilson P.L. Wong is the 2012 graduate of Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in
Psychology at City University of Hong Kong. His email address is [email protected]
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